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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Vascularized composite allograft (VCA) transplantation restores defects to a degree not possible by conventional techniques. However, it is limited by the need for long-term immunosuppression and high rates of acute rejection directed against skin. There is therefore a need for a therapy that may shift the risk-benefit ratio in favour of VCA transplantation. Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a subset of T cells with potent immunoregulatory properties and the potential to promote immunosuppression-free allograft survival. In this review, we consider the evidence for Treg therapy in VCA transplantation. RECENT FINDINGS: CD4 Tregs are the best-studied immunoregulatory cell type, and a large amount of experimental and clinical data is emerging to endorse their use in VCA transplantation. Data from animal and humanized models are particularly encouraging and demonstrate the potent efficacy of Treg at preventing skin allograft rejection. Moreover, central tolerance induction techniques in VCA transplantation models are demonstrating a dependence on Tregs for graft survival. SUMMARY: An improvement in outcomes after VCA transplantation has the potential to revolutionize the field. Several effective therapeutic strategies have demonstrated great promise experimentally, and there is now a need to assess their safety and efficacy in a clinical setting.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Opin Organ Transplant

Publication Date





558 - 565


Animals, Composite Tissue Allografts, Graft Rejection, Graft Survival, Humans, Immune Tolerance, T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory, Transplantation, Homologous